Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on the door forever.
Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on the door forever.
Many years ago in a small village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender.
The moneylender, who was an awful, mean man, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain.
He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag.
Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.
1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.
3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.
Now, imagine that you were standing in the field.
What would you have done if you were the girl?
If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?
Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.
Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.
What would you recommend to the girl to do?
Well, here is what she did ….
The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.
“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.
aren’t you tired yet?
And it’s a question we need to wrestle with every day.
Are you tired yet?
Tired of always trying to look like the smartest person in the room?
Tired of always having to be right?
Tired of always trying to get the last word?
Tired of always trying to be in control?
Tired of always trying to be the center of attention?
Tired of judging other people and throwing shadows on their accomplishments?
Tired of always trying to look like a hero?
Tired of trying to be as good as good can be to impress God, even though God has already made it abundantly clear that there’s nothing you can do to make him love you more?
When we’re tired of being tired, there’s hope we will finally listen to someone beyond ourselves.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says in Matthew 11:28.
When we’re tired of being tired, trusting him is our best hope of sleeping well tonight.
LOVE: A PARAPHRASE OF 1 CORINTHIANS 13
If I talk a lot about God and the Bible and the Church, but I fail to ask about your needs and then help you, I’m simply making a lot of empty religious noise.
If I graduate from theological seminary and know all the answers to questions you’ll never even think of asking, and if I have all the degrees to prove it and if I say I believe in God with all my heart, and soul and strength, and claim to have incredible answers to my prayers to show it, but I fail to take the time to find out where you’re at and what makes you laugh and why you cry, I’m nothing.
If I sell an extra car and some of my books to raise money for some poor starving kids somewhere, and if I give my life for God’s service and burn out after pouring everything I have into the work, but do it all without ever once thinking about the people, the real hurting people-the moms and dads and sons and daughters and orphans and widows and the lonely and hurting-if I pour my life into the Kingdom but forget to make it relevant to those here on earth, my energy is wasted, and so is my life.
Here is what love is like–genuine love. God’s kind of love. It’s patient. It can wait. It helps others, even if they never find out who did it. Love doesn’t look for greener pastures or dream of how things could be better if I just got rid of all my current commitments. Love doesn’t boast. It doesn’t try to build itself up to be something it isn’t. Love doesn’t act in a loose, immoral way. It doesn’t seek to take, but it willingly gives. Love doesn’t lose its cool. It doesn’t turn on and off. Love doesn’t think about how bad the other person is, and certainly doesn’t think of how it could get back at someone. Love is grieved deeply (as God is) over the evil in this world, but it rejoices over truth.
Love comes and sits with you when you’re feeling down and finds out what is wrong. It empathizes with you and believes in you. Love knows you’ll come through just as God planned, and love sticks right beside you all the way. Love doesn’t give up, or quit, or diminish or go home. Love keeps on keeping on, even when everything goes wrong and the feelings leave and the other person doesn’t seem as special anymore. Love succeeds 100 percent of the time. That, my friend, is what real love is!
WHAT IS LOVE?
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4-8 year olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca – age 8.
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4
“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy – age 6
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.” Danny – age 7
“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8
“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby – age 7
“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.” Nikka – age 6
“There are two kinds of love, Our love. God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them.” Jenny – age 8
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Noelle – age 7
“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” Tommy – age 6
“During my piano recital I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” Cindy – age 8
“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” Clare – age 6
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine – age 5
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.” Chris – age 7
“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” Lauren – age 5
“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8
FATHER, GIVE ME MY SHARE OF THE ESTATE
A long time ago, Jesus old a story about what it is like to come home.
Specifically, what it’s like to come home to our Father in heaven with no more qualifications than that we’ve made a mess of our own lives.
What would God say to us? What would his attitude be?
In one of Jesus’ most familiar parables (Luke 15: 11-32), the younger of two sons demands, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” It’s hard to overstate the edginess of this request. The Middle Eastern audience who first heard Jesus’ story must have been appalled. This Jewish boy has committed the ultimate sin.
In so many words he has said, “Father, drop dead. You’re no good to me alive. All I want from you is your money that will be mine when you’re gone. So, if you don’t mind, let’s pretend you’re gone now.” It’s hard to imagine a more painful or insulting injury to any parent.
With a breaking heart, the father realizes that his son has no desire to be in relationship with him. So he complies. He divides up the estate.
The boy takes off into the wide, wide world. According to the Bible this describes the relationship that all of us have with God. All of us have said, in one way or another, “Father, I wish you were dead. You crowd me. My life would be so much happier if you weren’t hovering over everything I think and say and do.”
What does God do when we relate to him like that? He says, “Go. Go out and see if life is really happier when you are out of relationship with me.”
Author H.J. Duffy remembers when his teenage son was so excited to try out his new surfboard that he plunged right into the breakers, ignoring the warning flags that had been posted for dangerous surf. Immediately the booming voice of the lifeguard rang out: “You are an inexperienced surfer. Return to shore.”
Humiliated, the boy returned. He asked the lifeguard how he knew he was a beginner. “That’s easy. You’ve got your wetsuit on backwards.”
God’s love is such that he doesn’t stand on the seashore of our lives and shout into a megaphone, “You are an inexperienced, completely ill-prepared rebel. Return home at once.” Incredibly, God lets us go.
At first things go brilliantly for the boy in Jesus’ story. He has the time of his life. But then he runs through all of his assets in “the far country.” As scholar Kenneth Bailey observes, his ATM card is suddenly rejected. His friends disappear. Jesus assigns to him the ultimate nightmare job for a Hebrew boy – feeding pigs.
The boy gradually “comes to his senses,” as Jesus puts it. He wakes up. He realizes how far away he is from where he started. He not only grasps in his head but he feels in his heart and his gut his separation from his father. He longs to go home.
But what will his dad do if he ever shows his pig-feeding face around town again?
That would be a no-brainer in first century Jewish society. The typical father would beat the living tar out of such a disrespectful son, as a warning to every other boy in the neighborhood. It would be a kind of community service beating.
But this boy wonders, in his heart of hearts: is there a possibility that my dad will take me back? He’s haunted by the last look that he saw on his father’s face.
He begins to formulate a plan. He will play Let’s Make a Deal. Certain that his relationship with his father is broken beyond repair, he rehearses a little speech. “Dad, I don’t even deserve a cot in the barn. I know I can’t be your son any more. Could I at least be one of your minimum wage workers?”
He leaves the distant country and begins walking in the direction of home, no doubt burdened by the thought of trying to clean his own slate for the rest of his life.
The last thing he suspects is that his own father, the one he has wounded, is about to clean that slate for him.
Luke 15:20 tells us, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The astonishing detail is that the father runs. Dignified gentlemen in the time of Jesus walked through their paces slowly. To run meant to show your ankles to the neighbors. To do that was to risk ridicule.
This Father could care less.
While we ourselves are still a long way off – even while we remain in our distant countries of doubt and anger and hopelessness – God the Father is waiting.
What is it like to go home?
God the Father will run to meet us.
— Authored by Glenn McDonald
A group of women were at a seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with their husbands.
The women were asked, “How many of you love your husband?” All the women raised their hands.
Then they were asked, “When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?”
Some women answered … “today,” a few … “yesterday,” and some … “can’t remember.”
The women were then told to take out their cell phones and text their husband – “I love you, Sweetheart”
Next the women were instructed to exchange phones with one another and read aloud the text message they received in response to their message.
Below are 12 hilarious replies. If you have been married for quite a while, you understand that these replies are a sign of true love. Who else would reply in such a succinct and honest way?
~ Who IS this?
~ Eh, mother of my children, are you sick or what?
~ Yeah, and I love you too. What’s wrong?
~ I don’t understand what you mean?
~ What now? Did you wreck the car again?
~ Am I dreaming?
~ Don’t beat about the bush, just tell me how much you need?
~ What did you do now?
~ If you don’t tell me who this message is actually for, someone will die.
~ Your mother is coming to stay with us, isn’t she?
Kinda tugs at the heart, doesn’t it?
I don’t mean to brag, but I finished my 14-day diet food in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Valentine’s Day is approaching.
It’s time to buy a padlock, book a flight to Paris with your true love, and be “love-locked” happily ever after.
That’s what tens of thousands of couples have been doing for the better part of the last decade in the City of Light.
Sweethearts stand on one of the bridges over the River Seine that winds its way through Paris. They write their names on a padlock, hook it to the wire mesh alongside the protective railing, then close it tight.
Then they throw the key into the river.
With that they joyfully embrace in the ardent hope that they have just secured their love forever.
Romantics think it’s an awesome new ritual. Parisian civic authorities have been considerably less enchanted. Three years ago, citing public safety (and complaints of visual pollution) they began to remove many of the locks.
Officials estimate that lovers have left 45 tons of padlocks, bike locks, antique locks, chain locks, and handcuffs to bridge railings, wire-mesh panels, lamps, signs, and even some of Paris’ famous riverside sculptures.
Not to mention the incredible number of keys that now litter the bottom of the Seine.
It’s fair to wonder if a lock is the ideal symbol for shared affection. Or whether love is rekindled every time someone sighs, “Honey, isn’t it great that our names are on those handcuffs attached to the Pont des Arts?”
French philosopher Alain Badiou gently points out that true love is not a prison or a possession. “True lovers protect each other’s freedom.”
But lovers also become anxious. We fear change. No wonder we’re drawn to rituals that offer the promise of stability. Wouldn’t it be great to lock things down?
According to the new love-lock tradition, love will last as long as that lock stays fastened.
Most couples, however, are discovering that staying together requires a lot more effort than plunking a key into a river.
Author Ernest Becker coined the term Apocalyptic Marriage – the illusion that if I just find that one perfect person, my true soul mate, then everything broken in my life will be repaired. Everything messed up in my heart and my head will be healed.
There’s just one problem with that idea: now my partner has to be God. And you thought coming up with the perfect Valentine’s Day gift was going to be tough.
No one can possibly live up to such an expectation.
Human love relationships are wonderful. They provide the gifts of companionship, support, and security. But only God can help us discover our true identity, find hope for the future, and begin to grasp the meaning of life.
Getting “love-locked” with another person is a great way to say, “I’m in this with you forever!”
But only God can say, “I actually know what forever means.”
And God will never change his mind about loving us.
— Authored by Glenn McDonald
Three churches in town were overrun with squirrels.
After much prayer, the elders of the first church determined that the animals were predestined to be there. Who were they to interfere with God’s will? They did nothing, and the squirrels multiplied.
The elders of the second church, deciding that they should not harm any of God’s creatures, humanely trapped the squirrels and then set them free outside of town. Three days later the squirrels were back.
The third church succeeded in solving the squirrel problem. The elders simply baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see the squirrels on Christmas and Easter.
THE BEST GIFTS THIS SEASON:
To a Friend – Loyalty
To an Enemy – Forgiveness
To your Boss – Service
To your Child – A good example
To your Father – Honor
To your Mother – Gratitude and Devotion
To your Spouse – Love and Faithfulness
To Yourself – Respect
To All Men – Charity
To God – Your Life!!
— Author Unknown